Thursday, March 17, 2016

Future Tripping

We spent a few days last week in Montana hanging out with Jack. Lindsay went on Sunday so she could attend "Parent Workshop", a three-day gathering comprised of lectures, therapy sessions and time with the kids. She and Jack were able to spend their afternoons together hiking, talking and otherwise just hanging out. Because of the time of year and my occupation I was unable to attend Workshop but did get away for the two overnight passes Jack had earned.

I arrived in Kalispell on Wednesday night. Lindsay had rented a studio near Montana Academy that was cozy and warm and we enjoyed a night there. Thursday morning we picked Jack up at about 9am and headed to a friend's house on the south end of Flathead Lake, a stunning natural lake of incredible size and beauty. We stayed there Thursday and Friday nights and enjoyed Jack's company. Limited access to internet and television allowed us to spend time talking, walking the grounds, and generally passing time together.

It was amazing to be in the same room with Jack. It's hard to feel close to him when he's off at school. Pictures help but there is no substitute for being able to reach out and touch his shoulder or watch his face contort while he plays his guitar. Every time we get together I'm amazed at the person he's becoming. I can see his maturity and how his world is expanding. Each visit reveals a new gift.

Strangely, on this trip I was haunted by the knowledge that on Saturday afternoon I was going to return to Colorado, once again leaving my son behind. In Jack's world it's called "future tripping". That is letting your thoughts and emotions be dominated by what's coming up. The phenomenon robs you of any joy or contentment that the present may provide. I'd hoped that my daily meditation practice would help me control my thoughts better but to no avail.

To make matters worse, while we were visiting with Jack we received news that one of his classmates had run away. "Mikey" and his father were at a movie in Kalispell and somehow he managed to disappear. The news hit me like a punch to the stomach. It made me wonder how much pain a kid must be in to wander away from a secure, warm, well-fed environment. Was Jack feeling that way? Did I need to worry about him running?

Jack and Lindsay were planning trips to the theater on both Saturday, after I left, and Sunday before returning Jack to school. He had run away from me the day I delivered him to Wilderness. In my head the threat was real. I cried.

I'm happy to report that Jack was a perfect Gentleman for Lindsay after I left for Colorado. He is happily back at Montana Academy where he realizes the value of his time there. He is thinking about his future while remaining present enough to succeed at his school work and social life.

Hopefully, on the next visit in May I'll be able to stay present and enjoy every minute I get with Jack. I'll talk to him on the phone tonight. I'll say "hello" for you.

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